Two sources close to President Muhammadu Buhari have told SaharaReporters that there was growing concern over the apparent determination of the president’s wife, Aisha Buhari, to transform herself into a politically powerful spouse, in defiance of her husband’s wishes.
The sources remarked that President Buhari had ordered that his wife not be officially addressed as “First Lady,” adding, however, that Mrs. Buhari has been operating as one.
Since Nigeria’s return to democratic governance in 1999, the wives of successive Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Yar’Adua, and Goodluck Jonathan had operated in a politically controversial and high profile manner. Stella Obasanjo, the wife of Mr. Obasanjo, was known as a quiet power broker who reportedly demanded loyalty to herself from those who worked closely with her husband. She died on October 23, 2005 in Spain during a secretive trip to perform cosmetic surgery to enhance her physique.
Mrs. Turai Yar’Adua emerged as a brooding operator who became the power behind the throne of her husband’s Presidency. When Mr. Yar’Adua took gravely ill and was hospitalized for long periods in a Saudi hospital, his wife, Turai, oversaw an ambitious scam to hoodwink Nigerians into believing that her comatose husband was still ably running Nigeria.
Immediate past First Lady Patience Jonathan exhibited some of the worst attributes of recent presidential spouses. A loquacious figure, she often inserted herself in state affairs, openly feuded with political figures, and was given to an ostentatious lifestyle. Her critics said she often courted or demanded huge cash gifts as well as land and cars from political officials, including governors and ministers.
During his campaign for the Presidency, Mr. Buhari had indicated that he would ensure that his wife did not assume a formal public and visible role as First Lady.
However, our two sources alleged that the incumbent president’s wife seemed determined to build herself into a First Lady in the mold of her three past predecessors.
She was reportedly in a haste to move into Aso Rock Villa, and ended up relocating to the President’s official residence three days before her husband moved in. One source said she brought along to Aso Rock three powerful friends who have been running her office as though she has an official title. The three women are former Senator Pauline Tallen from Plateau State, Fatimat Abubakar, a wife of former Vice President Abubakar Atiku, and a former Minister of Women Affairs, Hajia Hajo Sani.
Our other source disclosed that the activities of his wife’s three friends had become a cause for concern for President Buhari. “Mr. President [Buhari] is a simple man by nature. He still doesn’t want his wife, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, to begin to play the kind of role that First Lady Mrs. Patience Jonathan played,” he said.
Last week, President Buhari reportedly ordered agents of the State Security Services (SSS) to arrest his wife’s brother, Musa Yola, for allegedly defrauding a businessman of N300 million in exchange for securing an oil bloc for his dupe.